African Law Association

ALA Newsletter

Every two weeks, ALA sends out a newsletter to our members, covering the people, ideas, and events shaping the African continent. To subscribe to our newsletter, contact us at ad4759@nyu.edu. 


 

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Newsletter of September 19th, 2021

In what was arguably one of the biggest news stories of the week, Lieutenant-Colonel Doumbouya announced on Sunday that a special committee had detained president Alpha Condé and dissolved the current constitution and government of Guinea. The first democratically elected president in Guinea's history had been ousted by a military coup. Many people celebrated. Ecowas responded by suspending Guinea. Observers pointed towards a worrying trend of increased coups in the region. Others pointed out that coups are, in fact, no less common now that they have been over the last few decade (referring, however, to the continent as a whole rather than the region). Even though a vast majority of Guineans support democracy, only 29% think it is currently working. The military leadership is now officially in "transition" talks, and Ecowas is weighing its options on how to respond. 

New ideas for direct democracy? In an unprecedented move, Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Thursday that, for the first time ever, the South African public will have a say in the appointment of the country's new Chief Justice. The decision was made to "promote transparency and encourage public participation". The South African public is being invited to nominate candidates for the position that the president described as "vital" to democratic order. An expert panel will compile a shortlist from those nominations. The panel will be chaired by Judge Navi Pillay from the International Court of Justice, who served as the UN high commissioner for human rights until 2014.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, opposition parties are accusing the government of using the police force to violently suppress their demonstrations in favor of electoral reform. The National Assembly had voted on reform measures in June, which President Felix Tshisekedi and his supporters contend will strengthen the electoral commission's depoliticization. Opposition parties believe the move is a strategic one to enable election fraud in 2023.

Zambia's new president, elected earlier this month, is set on big reforms. He has fired the country's police and military chiefs and appointed a new finance minister. As Mr. Hichilema sets out on delivering on his promises of reform, he faces a steep climb: the country's finances are in dire straits. The country has crippling foreign debt, much of it owed to the Chinese state. The new Finance Minister, Mr. Musokotwane, indicated that the country plans to approach the IMF for a bailout. 

There is also good news to share: 

In a massive win for conservation efforts, Kenya announced recently that incidents of rhino poaching dropped to record ZERO in 2020. No rhinos were poached! This is largely thanks to intensified surveillance programs and higher investment in the rangers who work on the ground. 

Human rights activists have reason to celebrate: in Puntland, one of Somalia's semi-autonomous regions, a bill banning female genital mutilation has been approved. If it goes into effect, FMG will become illegal in the region, a massive shift in a country where the practice is basically universal. 

 

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